For those willing to pay the membership fee, Costco is a great place to buy in bulk and access a number of services. However, If you don’t want to pony up the cash ($55/year), there are still plenty of things you can take advantage of without a card.
1. Get your eyes checked: Costco stores have an optometrist on site and you can schedule an appointment whether you’re a member or not. The downside is that you need a membership to buy Costco’s offering of glasses, contact lenses, or other eye-wear.
2. Use a Costco Gift Card: As long as the gift card (which can go up to $1,000) is bought by someone with a membership, you can buy anything in the store. You can also use it to get into the store without a membership card.
3. Get medicine from the Pharmacy or Immunization Shots: You can get your prescription medicine at Costco too, but you still need a doctor’s note to fill it. Costco also offers immunizations without a membership.
4. Buy alcoholic beverages: Most states prohibit the forming of alcohol or tobacco “clubs”, so you can tell them at the door that you’re there to just buy alcohol and they should let you in.
5. Go window shopping: Tell the rep at the entrance looking for member cards that you would like to go to membership services and ask about joining. Once you’re at the service desk, get an application and ask to browse the store before making your decision.
6. Eat at the Food Court: Many Costcos have food courts outside the register area, so you can order whatever you like as long as you have cash (many of them now accept Amex/debit as well). If the food court is inside you can use an old gift card to get in or use the window shopping trick.
There are a lot of reasons to go to Costco, membership or not. It can be worth the time to find ways to save money, and if you want to take the plunge into a membership, there are a few items sold by Costco that can single-handedly pay for your Costco membership fee.